Stowe School is a selective independent school in Stowe, Buckinghamshire, England. It opened on 11 May 1923, initially with 99 schoolboys, and with J. F. Roxburgh as the first headmaster. The school is a member of the Rugby Group, the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, and the G20 Schools' Group. Originally for boys only, the school is now coeducational, with some 550 boys and 220 girls.
|Type||Independent school, day & boarding|
|Motto||Latin: Persto et Praesto|
("I stand firm and I stand first")
|Religious affiliation(s)||Church of England|
|Department for Education URN||110548 Tables|
|Chairman of governors||Simon Creedy-Smith|
|Age||13 to 18|
|Houses||13 boarding houses|
|Former pupils||Old Stoics|
The school has been based since its beginnings at Stowe House, formerly the country seat of the Dukes of Buckingham and Chandos. Along with many of the other buildings on the school's estate, the main house is now a Grade I Listed Building and is maintained by the Stowe House Preservation Trust.
Stowe School opened with its first 99 pupils, mainly aged 13, on 11 May 1923. There were two boarding Houses, Bruce and Temple, then both in the western part of the mansion. The following term Grenville and Chandos Houses were formed in the eastern wing, with Cobham and Grafton following soon afterwards as further parts of the house were converted into accommodation and classrooms. Chatham was the first purpose-built house, designed by the school's first architect, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. He had been instrumental in developing a vision for saving Stowe as a new centre of learning to match its crucial role in national culture and politics of the 18th Century. He had personally bought Stowe Avenue in 1922 before old Etonians presented it as birthday gift to the new school in 1924.
Helped by Harry Shaw, who had bought the estate the previous year, the new school succeeded in saving Stowe House and landscape gardens from demolition at their sale in October 1922. The school boasted a double foundation. Edward Montauban chaired the preparatory school committee seeking to found a new leading public school after the First World War and was the first to envisage the new school at Stowe. The finance came later through the Rev. Percy Warrington and the Martyrs Memorial Trust, giving rise to the group of Allied Schools.
J. F. Roxburgh was Stowe's founding Headmaster. His aim was to produce a modern public school concentrating on the individual, without the unpleasantness of fagging or arcane names then common in other schools. Instead, he sought to instil a new ethos enthused with the beauty of Stowe's unique environment where the best of traditional education would be tempered by liberal learning and every pupil would "know beauty when he sees it all his life". Pupils and staff would relate in a civilized and open way, showing confidence and respect based on Christian values. Such was Roxburgh's success in developing this vision that he was recognized as a formative figure in 20th-century English education, "greater than Arnold" in Gavin Maxwell's words, who was a pupil at the school.
Stowe's early success led to its rapid expansion. Walpole House was added in 1934 and the school reached 500 pupils by 1935. The art school, sports pavilion, and staff housing date from this period too, when the Legal & General Company provided financial support during the recession. Stowe made rapid progress academically too; in 1939 Charles Graves commented in the Daily Mail that "nearly 60% of the boys go to Oxford or Cambridge, which is said to be a higher percentage than that of any other public school". Teachers included T. H. White, author of The Once and Future King, and the Marxist historian George Rudé. Among sporting feats Old Stoic Bernard Gadney captained England's rugby team to take the triple crown in 1936, while in the early 1930s Laddie Lucas and John Langley were both national boy golf champions while still in Grenville House, helped by the golf course originally laid out in 1924. Sir Robert Lorimer's magnificent Chapel was opened in 1929 by Prince George, while in 1933, on the school's 10th anniversary, the Prince of Wales launched the repair of the garden buildings with the restoration of the Queen's Temple as a Music School.
The Second World War saw 270 Old Stoics killed in active service. There were also 242 decorations. These included the Victoria Cross for two former contemporaries in Chatham House, Major Jack Anderson and Wing Commander Leonard Cheshire, the later founder of the Cheshire Homes.
The Stowe Corner of Silverstone Circuit is named after the school.
In 2016, a Daily Telegraph investigator posing as a parent of a Russian pupil was told by the then school registrar that whilst pupils would always be expected to pass the entrance exam, it would help secure a place if a borderline child's parents were able to donate "about £100,000 or something like that."
There are 13 boarding houses: 8 boy houses, 4 girl houses and 1 mixed Sixth Form house. These boarding houses are mostly named after members of the family of Duke of Buckingham and Chandos. Each house has a number or letter assigned to it.
|Name||Named After||House Number/Letter|
|Bruce||Lady Mary Bruce (1710–1738), the daughter of Charles Bruce, 4th Earl of Elgin, and the wife of Henry Brydges, 2nd Duke of Chandos.||1|
|Temple||Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham; Earl Temple||2|
|Grenville||George Grenville, the husband of Hester Temple, 1st Countess Temple, mother of Richard Grenville-Temple, 2nd Earl Temple, and sister of Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham||3|
|Chandos||Duke of Buckingham and Chandos; Richard Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos||4|
|Cobham||Viscount Cobham;Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham||5|
|Chatham||William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, husband of Hester Grenville, sister of Richard Grenville-Temple, 2nd Earl Temple||6|
|Grafton||There is no known family connection, the name coming from the local fox hunt, the Grafton Hunt, which takes its name in turn from the Duke of Grafton. Grafton also has a history of supplying the Stowe Beagles with talented Masters and Hunt Staff, many of whom have continued to become Masters of packs around the Country.||7|
|Walpole||This is not a family name. Named after Horace Walpole, who wrote some famous letters about his visits to Stowe in the 18th century. It was his father, Robert Walpole, who was the more notable Walpole in Britain's and Stowe's history, however. Viscount Cobham's political life started under Walpole but his subsequent opposition to him led Cobham to found a political dynasty that played a major part in politics until Victorian times (producing four Prime Ministers). To be named "Nugent" originally.||8|
|Nugent (Girls)||Lady Mary Nugent, daughter of Robert Nugent, 1st Earl Nugent, married to George Nugent-Temple-Grenville, 1st Marquess of Buckingham. Nugent was originally the 'waiting house' that some new boys entered until their preferred house had a space.||N|
|Lyttelton (Girls – formerly Boys)||Baron Lyttelton,succeeded to the Viscounty of Cobham since Charles George Lyttelton, 5th Baron Lyttelton, after the death of the Richard Plantagenet Campbell Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, and into which title the Barony is now merged. Originally "Stanhope House", which became the Careers, International, and Skills Development departments of the school. Named after Lady Hester Stanhope, niece of William Pitt the Younger, who was the niece of Richard Grenville-Temple, 2nd Earl Temple||0|
|Queen's (Girls)||Opened in September 2007 and officially opened by the Queen in November 2007 and thus named after her.||A|
|Stanhope (Girls)||Opened in May 2009 and officially opened by Sir Nicholas Winton.||B|
|West (Mixed)||Opened in September 2014 as a Sixth Form House.||W|
|Winton (Boys)||Opened in September 2019 as a day house for boys. Named after Sir Nicholas Winton.||9|
|Cheshire (Girls)||Opened in September 2019 as a day house for girls. Named after Leonard Cheshire.||C|
Former pupils of Stowe School are known as Old Stoics. Sir Richard Branson is currently the President of the Old Stoic Society. Old Stoics include:
- Michael Alexander (1920–2004), prisoner of war
- Major Jack Anderson (1918–1943), recipient of Victoria Cross
- Lord Annan, author and Provost of King's College, Cambridge
- 3rd Earl Attlee, grandson of Clement Attlee
- George Barclay, Battle of Britain pilot
- Alexander Bernstein, Baron Bernstein of Craigweil, television executive, Labour Party member of the House of Lords
- Oliver Bertram, motor racing driver
- Richard Boston, English journalist and author
- John Boyd-Carpenter, Baron Boyd-Carpenter, British Conservative Party politician
- Sir Richard Branson, businessman
- Lyndon Brook, actor
- Jack Brooksbank, husband of Princess Eugenie
- Lord Justice Simon Brown, law lord
- Florence Brudenell-Bruce, actress and model
- Martin Buckmaster, 3rd Viscount Buckmaster
- James Burnell-Nugent, Admiral
- Henry Cavill, actor
- Leonard Cheshire, airman and founder of the Cheshire Foundation
- Oliver Churchill, SOE officer during World War II
- Simon Clegg, former CEO of the British Olympic Association and former CEO of Ipswich Town Football Club
- Peter Coke, playwright
- Oliver Colvile, Conservative Member of Parliament
- John C. Corlette, architect and later teacher at Gordonstoun, founder Aiglon College, Switzerland, in 1949
- John Cornford, poet
- Andrew Croft, explorer and SOE agent
- Chelsy Davy, former girlfriend of Prince Harry
- Michael Deeley, Academy-Award-winning film producer
- Simon Digby, oriental scholar
- Roly Drower, poet, musician, satirist, broadcaster and activist
- Ben Duckett, English cricketer, Northamptonshire
- John David Eaton, Canadian merchant
- Alex Farquharson, Curator and Director of Tate Britain
- Thomas Firbank, originator of P company
- Reg Gadney, Thriller-writer, painter and screenplay-writer
- Howard Goodall, musician
- Michael Grade, TV executive
- Harry Gregson-Williams, composer and 1st music scholar 1975
- George Haig, 2nd Earl Haig
- Edward Hardwicke, actor
- Peter Hayman, British diplomat and paedophile
- Sir Jack Hayward , entrepreneur and former owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Robert Heber-Percy (1911–1987), eccentric
- Sir Nicholas Henderson, British diplomat
- Nigel Henderson, artist, asked to leave after burning a Union Flag
- John Henniker-Major, 8th Baron Henniker, British diplomat
- Annabel Heseltine, journalist and broadcaster
- Roger Hodgson, founding member and vocalist of Supertramp
- Oscar Humphries, journalist
- Robert Kee, broadcaster, journalist and Ireland historian
- Jack Keeping, cricketer
- Danny Kinahan, Ulster Unionist Member of UK Parliament for South Antrim
- Marc Koska, designer K1 auto-disable syringe and credited with saving in excess of one million lives
- Laddie Lucas, airman, golfer, author and Member of UK Parliament
- Charles Manners, Marquess of Granby, heir to the Duke of Rutland
- Nicholas Walter Lyell, Baron Lyell of Markyate, former Solicitor-General and Attorney-General
- Gavin Maxwell, author and naturalist
- Alistair McAlpine, Baron McAlpine
- George Melly, jazz singer and art historian
- Crispian Mills, musician
- Christopher Robin Milne, son of A. A. Milne
- George Monbiot, journalist and political activist
- Iain Moncreiffe, herald
- Chandos Morgan, priest
- David Niven, actor and author
- Toby O'Brien, journalist and public relations expert
- Marilyn Okoro, 400m athlete
- Dalton Philips, chief executive of Morrisons
- Anthony Quinton, philosopher
- HSH Prince Rainier III of Monaco
- Miranda Raison, actress
- James Reeves, poet
- Graham Riddick, Conservative Party politician
- Geoffrey Russell, 4th Baron Ampthill
- John Sainsbury, Baron Sainsbury of Preston Candover, grocer
- David Shepherd, artist
- Tilly Smith, 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake tsunami rescuer
- David Stevens, Baron Stevens of Ludgate, UKIP peer
- Henrik Takkenberg, singer, songwriter
- Karan Thapar, journalist
- Matthew Vaughn, director and producer
- Michael Ventris, linguist who deciphered Linear B
- J. O. N. Vickers, trade unionist
- Rollo Weeks, actor
- Laurence Whistler, artist
- Graeme White, cricketer, Northamptonshire
- Sir Nicholas Winton, humanitarian, nicknamed the British Schindler
- Peregrine Worsthorne, journalist
- David Wynne
- George Zambellas, Royal Navy Admiral
- Theodore Acland, housemaster 1924–30, later headmaster of Norwich School
- T.H. White, English Teacher 1932–36, known for his sequence of Arthurian novels, The Once and Future King, first published together in 1958.
- Harry Gregson-Williams, Composer in Residence 2012–13, Old Stoic and Hollywood composer.
The first recorded match on the school cricket ground came in 1928 when Stowe School played St Paul's School. Buckinghamshire played their first Minor Counties Championship match there in 1947, when the opponents were Berkshire. Between 1947 and 1982 the ground held five Minor Counties Championship matches, the last of which saw Buckinghamshire draw against Bedfordshire. The ground has also hosted a single MCCA Knockout Trophy match which saw Buckinghamshire play Bedfordshire.
The ground has also held a single List A match for Northamptonshire in the 2005 totesport League, against Gloucestershire. and has held fourteen Second XI fixtures for the Northamptonshire Second XI in the Second XI Championship and Second XI Trophy.
In popular culture
In the Channel 4 comedy Fresh Meat, students JP, Ralph, Giles, Toby and Sykes are all Old Stoics.
In the 2014 spoof documentary series The Life of Rock with Brian Pern and Brian Pern, a Life in Rock, Brian Pern and his fellow band members in the progressive rock group Thotch are depicted as having met at Stowe School.
Stowe School was described by the Tatler Schools Guide of 2018 as "stonkingly, perennially popular."
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- W. A. Evershed, Party and Patronage in the Church of England 1800–1945, D. Phil. thesis, Oxford University,1985, gives a detailed and well-referenced account of the questionable methods employed by Warrington.
- Outrageous Fortune: Growing Up at Leeds Castle By Anthony Russell
- Archived 29 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
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- Witherow, John, ed. (21 June 2018). "Obituary – Reg Gadney". The Times (72567). p. 54. ISSN 0140-0460.
- Denis Greenhill (11 April 1992). "Obituary: Sir Peter Hayman". The Independent. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
- "Stowe House 1". Antiques Roadshow. Series 35. Episode 13. 22 February 2013. BBC. Archived from the original on 10 January 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
- Other matches played on Stowe School Ground Archived 4 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Cricketarchive.com.
- Minor Counties Championship Matches played on Stowe School Ground Archived 5 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Cricketarchive.com.
- Minor Counties Trophy Matches played on Stowe School Ground Archived 5 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Cricketarchive.com (7 August 1983).
- List-A Matches played on Stowe School Ground Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Cricketarchive.com (19 June 2005)
- Second XI Championship Matches played on Stowe School Ground Archived 4 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Cricketarchive.com.
- Second XI Trophy Matches played on Stowe School Ground Archived 4 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Cricketarchive.com.
- "Stowe School". Archived from the original on 5 May 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2018.